Rwanda’s Mountain Gorillas Population Is Growing
People oftentimes hear about various species becoming endangered and great lengths being taken to protect the numbers that are left. However, because such instances tend to be so distant and far away, many think that the efforts are useless. That’s why the mountain gorillas of Rwanda have been such a different case.
For generations, the gorillas have been profiled in National Geographic magazines, nature shows, TV specials, books, magazines and more. And as a result, unlike many other threatened species, the Rwandan gorillas have been watched and seen, year after year. Much of that exposure has been due to the work of Dian Fossey, a naturalist and scientist who put herself with the threatened gorillas, both to study them and protect the animals. Because of her work, Rwandan gorillas became visible and, more importantly, became a priority for the world. That made a difference.
When Fossey first started, the gorillas were down to 254 individuals, a miniscule number given they were the last of their species in the entire world. Amazingly, that number has now almost tripled. Further, there is now an additional 400 more in adjacent Uganda as well. It has taken decades, and Fossey’s work triggered a massive response partnership with government, scientists, conservationists, and human communities in the vicinity. The results have produced a chance of survival for the gorillas, something they didn’t have when Dian Fossey got started.
Locally, the mountain range that makes up the home area for the gorillas is known as Virunga Volcanoes. However, it was Fossey who gave them the title of the Gorillas in the Mist, a name that stuck and became popular in spreading awareness about the endangered animals.
Dian Fossey has since passed, but many dedicated personnel continue her work locally with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, a non-profit committed to the gorilla’s research and protection. That was well after Fossey herself spent 18 years plus working practically alone before her work gained attention. She was part of a critical group in anthropology, and shared work with names like Jane Goodall as well.
Today, the gorillas are part of a government-protected sanctuary. And they are not isolated in obscurity. Instead, the government allows groups of visitors, limited to a handful per trip, to travel with an expert and see the gorillas in person. The experience is both an income generator for additional protection as well as a chance for people to be educated in person about the Rwandan gorilla colony in its home. Additionally, the income helps the local villages as well, which goes a tremendous way in preventing poaching, a key activity locals were engaged in to make money when there was no protection and black market demand for gorilla body parts was in high demand.
There’s no question that the gorillas would not have survived had it not been for the popularity popular attention towards the animals. And, while some will complain that the monetization of the animals is just capitalism corrupting things again, the same income has been providing the resources to both protect the gorillas as well as help them grow in numbers.
Dutch Artist Pays Off Student Loan Debt with Unique Tapestry Creation
Mart Veldhuis, a talented Dutch artist, found a creative way to pay off his student loan debt. He crafted a remarkable tapestry that depicted the 46,000 euros he owed. This intricate work of art, titled “Eigen Schuld,” meaning “Own Debt” or “Own Fault,” became a symbol of Veldhuis’ financial burden.
Once completed, the tapestry found its home in the prestigious Dordrechts Museum. Unexpectedly, a buyer was captivated by the artwork and decided to purchase it for 45,879.40 euros. This generous offer brought Veldhuis closer to becoming debt-free, leaving him in a state of disbelief and joy. “This is what I had hoped for, but when I heard the news, I was really speechless. It still feels very unreal,” shared Veldhuis.
The tapestry itself was a visually striking piece, featuring various elements that conveyed Veldhuis’ feelings towards his indebtedness. One of the central motifs portrayed a Dutch lion clutching a menacing sword, symbolizing the artist’s perception of owing a significant debt to the state. The tapestry served as a powerful medium for Veldhuis to express his emotions and experiences.
The Dordrechts Museum facilitated the transaction and revealed the identity of the buyers as renowned art dealers Joke van Veen, 75, and Jaap Versteegh, 69. When asked about their decision to acquire the tapestry, Versteegh explained, “We bought the tapestry in the first place because we think it’s a good work of art. It is innovative and visually strong. In addition, the social theme of the work – the consequences of student debt and the social loan system – strongly appeals to us.”
Veldhuis’ creation not only captured the attention of art enthusiasts but also highlighted the pressing issue of student loan debt. Many students struggle with the financial burden of loans, and Veldhuis’s artwork serves as a reminder of this widespread concern. By showcasing his own experience, he sparked conversations about the consequences of student debt and the loan system in society.
The success of Veldhuis’ tapestry represents a triumph for the artist and sheds light on the power of art to address social issues. Through his creative expression, he not only managed to alleviate his financial struggles but also stimulated meaningful discussions about the challenges faced by students burdened with debt.
As Veldhuis moves forward, he can embrace a debt-free future, thanks to his artistic talent and the support of individuals who recognized the significance of his work. The tapestry will forever stand as a symbol of his journey, inspiring others to find innovative ways to confront their own challenges.
Study Finds That Helping Others is Universal
A new study led by Sydney Centre for Language Research Professor Nick Enfield has shown that the human tendency to help others within their social group is universal. The study, which was conducted across eight countries, found that people tend to help others in their close social circles when needed, regardless of their cultural background.
The study focused on small, pervasive low-cost requests such as passing items, helping to make food, or moving heavy objects. These requests are fulfilled immediately and are common in daily interactions within close social circles, such as in the home or village life. However, the study did not examine big requests, such as loaning large sums of money, or helping strangers in more formal settings such as workplaces, businesses, or shopping.
The research team conducted the study in towns in England, Italy, Poland, and Russia, as well as villages in rural Ecuador, Ghana, Laos, and First Nations communities across Australia. They found that people in all of these locations tend to help those in their close social circles without hesitation.
The findings of this study have significant implications for our understanding of human social behavior. They suggest that helping behavior within close social circles is not limited to specific cultures or regions, but is instead a universal human trait.
Moreover, the study’s findings suggest that this behavior is rooted in the social dynamics of human relationships. Close social relationships, such as those within families or small communities, are built on trust, mutual support, and reciprocity. Helping others within these relationships is a way to reinforce these bonds and ensure their survival.
The study’s lead author, Professor Enfield, emphasized the importance of studying these small acts of help and how they build trust and community. We tend to focus on big events like natural disasters, but the small acts of help that we see in our daily lives are just as important, if not more so, in building and maintaining the social fabric of our communities.
Finland Stays At #1 In 2023 World Happiness Report
The World Happiness Report has released its list of the 10 happiest countries in the world, and for the sixth year in a row, Finland has taken the top spot. The report, which looks at six key factors – social support, income, health, freedom, generosity, and absence of corruption – measures the subjective well-being of individuals in each country. Finland held onto the #1 spot despite the pandemic, and attributes its happiness to lifestyle, food, nature, and sustainability.
Finland is a country known for its stunning natural beauty and high quality of life. It has a strong social welfare system that provides a safety net for all citizens, and the country is committed to sustainability, with a focus on reducing carbon emissions and preserving the environment. Additionally, Finland has a strong emphasis on education and gender equality, with women making up nearly half of the country’s parliament.
The rest of the top 10 happiest countries in the world include Denmark, Iceland, Israel, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and New Zealand. These countries all share similar characteristics, such as strong social welfare systems, a high standard of living, and a commitment to sustainability and the environment.
On the other end of the spectrum, Afghanistan and Lebanon remain the two unhappiest countries in the survey. Both countries have faced significant political instability and conflict in recent years, contributing to low levels of happiness and well-being among their citizens.
While the World Happiness Report is just one way to measure the well-being of individuals in different countries, it provides valuable insights into the factors that contribute to happiness and the ways in which countries can work to improve the lives of their citizens. As the world continues to navigate the challenges posed by the pandemic and other global issues, it is more important than ever to prioritize well-being and focus on building happy and sustainable societies.
Native Species Conservation Strengthened in Northern Victoria By Animal Tourism
As the world grapples with the ongoing loss of biodiversity and wildlife, two wildlife sanctuaries in Central and Northern Victoria are working to strengthen their conservation efforts and protect threatened species from extinction. Jirrahlinga Dingo Conservation and Wildlife Education Centre and Kyabram Fauna Park are both expanding their operations and implementing new strategies to promote awareness and education about conservation and wildlife protection.
Jirrahlinga Dingo Conservation and Wildlife Education Centre is a unique conservation that combines two already established conservations – the dingo farm and the koala sanctuary – to provide the public with an opportunity to interact with animals while learning about their threat of extinction. All the animals at Jirrahlinga have been abandoned or rescued, and the center has hired six workers to help visitors interact with the animals and have the best experience possible. The tours are very popular and educational, providing visitors with a chance to learn about the importance of conservation and the role that they can play in protecting wildlife.
Kyabram Fauna Park, which has now combined with Zoos Victoria family, has also expanded its conservation efforts, pledging to protect 27 threatened species from extinction on their watch. The park is made up of evaporative ponds and has added thousands of tree plantings and restoration work which has seen the return of more than 35 bird species. One of the park’s biggest draws is the meerkat enclosure. People love meerkats because they are energetic and charming, and the park has made sure to incorporate these animals into their conservation efforts, promoting their conservation and educating the public about their important role in the ecosystem.
Both Jirrahlinga and Kyabram are doing important work to protect and conserve wildlife in Central and Northern Victoria. By offering educational tours and providing visitors with opportunities to interact with animals, they are promoting awareness about the importance of conservation and encouraging people to take an active role in protecting wildlife. With their combined efforts, these two wildlife sanctuaries are making a real difference in the fight to protect biodiversity and ensure a sustainable future for our planet.
Stumpy, the beloved DC Cherry Blossom is blooming again
Every spring, visitors to Washington D.C. are treated to a magnificent display of pink and white cherry blossom trees. These iconic trees have a rich history in the United States and are a symbol of the friendship between the United States and Japan. The cherry blossom season in D.C. typically lasts from late March to early April, and attracts millions of visitors to the nation’s capital each year.
Cherry blossom trees were first gifted to the United States in 1912 by Japan as a symbol of friendship between the two nations. The original gift consisted of 3,000 trees, which were planted along the Tidal Basin in D.C. Unfortunately, the trees were diseased and had to be destroyed. Japan sent another gift of 3,800 trees in 1915, and those trees still stand to this day.
While the majority of cherry blossom trees in D.C. are healthy and thriving, one tree has captured the hearts of many visitors. This tree, affectionately nicknamed “Stumpy,” is located near the Jefferson Memorial and has a disheveled appearance. In 2020, a photo of Stumpy went viral on Reddit, with many commenters expressing their love for the tree’s unique character.
Despite its appearance, Stumpy still blooms every spring, producing beautiful pink blossoms that serve as a reminder of the beauty and resilience of nature. The tree’s stunted growth is believed to be due to an overflow of water in the area, which can cause trees to wilt and eventually die. While Stumpy’s future is uncertain, for now, it continues to serve as a beloved fixture in the D.C. cherry blossom season.
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